Tigers Follow New Path In Draft

DETROIT The early returns on the Tigers' 2011 draft point to one obvious fact: it was far different that most of the team's recent drafts.

In recent years, the Tigers generally have focused on taking pitchers in the early rounds, and haven't been afraid to pick high school players early. This year Detroit took position players with its first five picks and 10 of its first 11. Detroit selected college players with 24 of its first 29 picks.

"It really was a draft that was different from the past,"  Tigers' vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said. "Picking 76th had a lot to do with that. I understand we did take college players up top, but that's just how our board fell.

"James McCann, Aaron Westlake and Jason King were all players that we identified early in the season last summer and this fall."

The Tigers lost their first-round pick when they signed Victor Martinez this past offseason.
The team used its first pick, which came in the second round, on McCann, a catcher from Arkansas who hit .306 with six home runs and 11 stolen bases while throwing out 20-of-38 basestealers.

"The things we liked with James were his ability to catch and throw," Chadd said. "We also liked his makeup and his work ethic."

The Tigers also picked Vanderbilt catcher Curtis Casali in the 10th round. This comes after picking three catchers in the first eight rounds last year and despite having 24-year-old Alex Avila at the major league level.

"Any time you have a chance to draft catching, you do it," Chadd said. "Catching is tough to come by in any draft."

Chadd said the Tigers picked Westlake because of his offensive capabilities, while King was an attractive choice because his athleticism and strength can translate into solid potential with the bat and on defense.

Detroit selected its first pitcher in the seventh round when it chose Brian Flynn, a 6-foot-7 lefthander from Wichita State. "He's a power guy who has developed a slider," said Chadd, who was a pitching coach at Wichita State from 1990-91. "He's got a good delivery and good mechanics, and we think he will turn into a good pitcher."


• Among the players Detroit drafted was second baseman Colin Kaline of Florida Southern in the 26th round. He is the grandson of Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline.

• The Tigers released righthander Richard Zumaya, the brother of reliever Joel Zumaya. Richard Zumaya was 0-1, 6.75 in five appearances for low Class A West Michigan this season and never advanced beyond high Class A Lakeland since being selected in the 43rd round of the 2007 draft.